Yesterday I wrote about NFL Fantasy's biggest surprises and disappointments of the season. With those out of the way, I was asked to make some predictions for the rest of the season as well. Now, aside from predicting how many times I'm going to eat Chipotle in a given week, I'm not exactly the next Nostradamus (and to be honest, I'm kind of like the Miss Cleo of predicting my own Chipotle intake). That being said, I've watched a lot of football in the first four weeks of the season, and have detailed 10 predictions below. Of course, most of these likely won't come true because the NFL is about as predictable as the final resting place of an errant Tim Tebow pass, but hey, let's have some fun.
1) Andrew Luck will be our 2014 fantasy MVP: This Colts team reminds me a bit of the team in 2004, when Peyton Manning first threw 49 touchdowns. Manning repeatedly had to put the team on his back and carry the Colts to victory. Luck already has a four touchdown advantage over the next closest quarterback in fantasy points, and leads the league in passing yardage. Yes, he'll still throw some more interceptions, but this looks like a legacy-defining fantasy campaign in Luck's early career.
2) Antonio Brown will hold on to finish as the No. 1 scoring wide receiver: What can't Brown do? He can turn short passes into big plays, make contested catches, burn elite cornerbacks and get open deep. Looking at the top of the wide receiver charts, most of the guys behind Brown have a second wide receiver that will eat more into their production (Jordy Nelson, Julio Jones), which gives Brown a slight edge to come out on top.
3) Eddie Lacy will rebound to finish as a top-12 fantasy running back: I know plenty of people (including my colleague James Koh) think Lacy is done, but I'm not jumping ship just yet. Lacy started slowly last season as well, but once his touches increased so did his production. Prior to Thursday night, Lacy has yet to carry the ball more than 20 times in a single game. Looking ahead at Green Bay's schedule, seven of their final eight games are played at Lambeau Field or in a cold-weather road stadium (Minnesota and Buffalo). Lacy is built for those games, and the Packers will likely feed him when the temperature drops. If his owner is panicky in your league, this could be the time to buy low on the Alabama product.
4) Kelvin Benjamin will lead all rookies in fantasy scoring: Twitter was quite divided on Benjamin, with many not thinking he had what it takes to be an elite NFL receiver. Well, while Benjamin has had some mental lapses, he's backed them up with a spectacular play in almost every game. The youngster out of Florida State already has a rapport with Cam Newton, and has proven he can compete at the NFL level. He's this year's Keenan Allen, except he'll best all rookie running backs in scoring as well.
5) No Patriots' player will finish in the top 10 at his position: This one could very easily go wrong for me because despite how he's looked the first few weeks, Tom Brady is still Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski continues to get healthier (or so we're told). Nevertheless, the running back situation is a mess, Brady is currently innaccurate, their wide receivers are getting benched like Belichick is playing a cruel game of musical chairs, and Gronk is not 100 percent. There are a number of talented young tight ends who might pass Gronk if he doesn't return to full-on spike mode soon.
6) Cordarrelle Patterson will finish outside the top three highest-scoring second-year wide receivers: Convoluted, I know, but after I spent much of the offseason writing about second-year wideouts (among others), Patterson seemed destined to lead the pack. Well, when that pack includes the likes of Keenan Allen, DeAndre Hopkins, Terrance Williams and Markus Wheaton, odds are against Patterson beating out three of them when he is losing targets to Jarius Wright in his own offense. Now, I hope I'm wrong here, because I own Patterson in several leagues, but so far the writing on the wall seems to indicate that Patterson might be a year away from his true breakout season.
7) Larry Fitzgerald will be the bust of the 2014 season:Montee Ball was also in consideration here, but I still think he's going to get plenty of garbage points against teams intent on stopping Peyton Manning. Fitzgerald was a fifth-round pick in most fantasy leagues, and has so far averaged just over two fantasy points per game. TWO. He's no longer the most dynamic receiver on his roster, and it isn't crazy to think that the speedy duo of Michael Floyd and John Brown will finish the season with more yards and catches each than Fitzgerald. It pains me to watch his play and write these words, as Fitz is one of my favorite players of the last decade, but his season might already be over in fantasy.
8) Eli Manning will finish the season as a top-10 fantasy quarterback: If you'd have said this to me prior to the season, I would have bought something to drink just so I could spit it out for effect. However, Manning and the Giants offense have been clicking the last two weeks, and Eli could be turning the corner on his turnover-machine days. Add in the fact that he has a number of cushy matchups remaining (Philadelphia twice, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Washington) and I think Eli will be the one laughing when the season is over, and not us.
9) DeMarco Murray holds on to win the fantasy rushing title: Bold, right? I kid, but Murray has been phenomenal this year, running even better than he has in years past. And here's the kicker -- Jason Garrett and co. are actually giving him the ball. A novel concept, considering the team is 14-1 when Murray rushes 20 or more times. This is a perfect storm of ability, opportunity, and an early lead in the fantasy point totals (Murray is currently 21.2 fantasy points ahead of the next closest back). All told, it should equal a fantasy rushing title for Murray.
10) Travis Kelce finishes as a top-five fantasy tight end: OK, the last prediction was kind of cheap, so how about this one: Kelce finishes as a top-five fantasy tight end. It appears that with each passing week Andy Reid realizes more and more what a weapon he has in Kelce. The youngster is currently fifth in receiving yards among tight ends, and with his volume of targets increasing that won't change. If he tacks on a handful more touchdowns, he won't have any trouble making this prediction a reality.
So how'd I do? Terrible right? Let me hear it on Twitter @AlexGelhar and tell me how dumb or spot on these predictions are. Send me your best predictions as well, and if I get enough good responses I'll put together a fan predictions piece for next week. Good luck in your fantasy matchups this weekend, and don't forget to have fun -- that's what it's all about, after all.